The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Does the budget examine existing spending to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate the addition of new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.
This appropriation adds a major new line item, a JOBCorps pilot project with an $4.3 million appropriation. This appropriation is a federal grant, with 100 percent of the appropriation provided by the federal government and therein lies the concern.
Page 5-46 of the Fiscal Year 2020 Legislative Budget Book (LBB), provides a detailed description of how this federal grant will be used to provide funding to “colleges around the state (initially designated for the College of Western Idaho) for education, training services, guidance, counseling, and other services and support to residential students.”
Idaho receives 34.7 percent of all state-appropriated funding from the federal government. By accepting this grant, we simply further increase our dependence on a federal government that is $22 trillion in debt.
The description in the LBB, describes this funding as the first installment of a three-year pilot project. A major concern is that once we accept this money, will the colleges turn to the state and ask for general funds after the grant runs out? They will have added staff and other resources.
Finally it should be noted that there are currently more job openings in Idaho that unemployed people; this program is ill-timed.